Leah bachhuber

Live, read, travel, explore, enjoy

Category: Adventure

Nehalem Bay Yurt Camping

You know you are a true Oregonian when you go camping in the rain. Well, to be fair, we were yurt camping which is high on the glamping spectrum and is FAR easier to camp when the weather is unfavorable. Given that we live in Oregon and Oregon seems to have blown up with ourdoorsy, camping types in recent years, camping in close proximity to Portland is no longer an “on-a-whim” type of thing. We booked a yurt at Nehalem Bay State Park with a group of friends last year. It was my and the kids’ first time yurt camping, and we had a blast, despite some heavy rains on the first day and some night “challenges” from the kids.

Now that both the kids are mobile and can actually run off and play with other kids, camping is actually really fun. The general reaction we get when we tell people we are going camping with an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old is, “Why would you do that to yourselves?” Both recent camping trips have turned out really well, though. Of course, there are the challenges, bedtime difficulties, early wake-ups, and sugar highs (and subsequent lows), but I mentally prepare for that because: camping.

The Nehalem Bay Yurts were awesome: they include a bunk bed with a twin on top and full on bottom, and a pull-out futon with a full mattress. We brought the Pack’n’Play for Charlie, so everyone had their own bed. Best of all, the yurts have heaters in them. Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had cranked the heater to 80 degrees, so I was actually too hot at night – when does that ever happen camping? But really, having the heater makes staying the cold night with kids pretty easy. Ava woke in the morning at 4:50am and immediately woke the rest of us up. But, after Jet Boiled coffee and some fresh air, we were in good spirits.

We were rewarded for sticking out a raining evening and night with beautiful, sunny, blue skies the next day. The kids loved playing at the beach and getting sandy.

Spray Rodeo – 2017

Another great Memorial Day rodeo weekend in the books! We headed to Shelton Wayside campground on Friday and spent two nights, returning home on Sunday. We did go camping one night last summer, but Charlie was still in full-on baby mode, so this was the first official camping trip with two mobile kids. To be honest, I was mentally preparing for the worst. We generally tend to avoid sleeping in the same room as the kids at all costs and always seek out vacation lodging options where everyone can have their own sleep space (this means Charlie has slept in more than a handful closets and bathrooms in his life). I was envisioning over-tired kids who wouldn’t go to bed, kids crying in the night, kids waking up at the crack of dawn, kids having to use the outhouse at 4am, etc…

As it turns out, I was very pleasantly surprised by how awesome the camping trip turned out. The kids had SO much fun and it was SO much fun for us to watch them really enjoy themselves. Ava is starting to enter the phase where she can really play with other kids, rather than just along side other kids. My friend Ashley had her kids there too, Rory (4.5) and Riley (8.5), and Ava and Rory totally hit it off and played so well together. Charlie loved just wandering around the campsite, exploring. Both the kids were so tired by bedtime that they easily passed out without much cajoling. On Night 1, Charlie woke up crying around 2:30am, probably because he was too cold. Despite the 90 degree day temperatures, the temps dropped to extremely chilly at night. It took us about 2 hours to finally get him to sleep, and luckily Ava slept through it all. But, once we woke up, saw the sun shining, and drank a cup of coffee, all was right with the world. On the second night, we put a hat on Charlie before bed, and had him sleep on his Pack’n’Play mattress between us, and he fell right asleep and slept through the night.

Saturday was taken up with rodeo events. Daniel started off the day by running the Spray Half Marathon. We met him in town for the buckaroo breakfast. Ava had a orange tang mustache for the entirety of the trip after downing two cups of the sweet elixir. Then, the rodeo parade, which Ava absolutely loved because she got to admire the rodeo queens with their glittery horses and sparkly shirts. Ava also really enjoyed the rodeo itself, and was quite perplexed by why the cowboys kept falling off the bucking broncos. Charlie seemed to enjoy himself too. The hardest part of the whole experience was the heat. The days heated up to above 90 degrees, which was quite difficult with two very small children.

Overall, we had a blast, more fun than I anticipated. The trip was a great test for us, because now we realized that a) we can do more camping this summer and b) we can be a little more flexible with vacations because sleeping in the same space as the kids actually wasn’t so bad.

Summit Meadow Cabins, 2017

We spent the weekend in a cozy cabin at Summit Meadows, a short walk from Trillium Lake. Last time I was at Summit Meadows, the snow pack was long gone, but this time we had a great base of snow (and it was still coming down!) for snowshoeing around the lake and gazing out at the falling flakes.

It just so happened to also be Ava’s third birthday on Friday! We celebrated with cupcakes and presents after dinner.

San Diego, California

Ahhhhh… 70 degree weather, palm trees swaying in the breeze, tank tops, sand between the toes: I could get used to this! Our long weekend in San Diego was a welcome change from the soggy (and sometimes frozen) Oregon winter.

Flying with the kids is always a wild card. Ava is at the stage I’ve been waiting for – she can easily plop in front of the iPad for a few hours and be entertained on a flight. Charlie isn’t there yet, and it took a bit more effort to distract him, entertain him, and eventually Ergo nap him. Overall, the kids did great though and the airplane flight was a definite highlight for Ava (read: biscotti cookies, orange juice, unlimited use of iPad, her own seat).

We met our friends Shane and Angela in San Diego, where we shared a lovely Airbnb rental with them. The rental, which had previously been lived in by the owners and their kids, was fully outfitted for kids, including a Pack’n’play, high chair, baby gates at the stairs and toys. This made the trip SO much easier. Definitely worthwhile to take into account when booking a rental home.

It was a treat to enjoy the weekend with our friends, who are equally up for a good, long city walk and a great adventure. Highlights include:

  • Playing in the sand at Dog Beach
  • Taking an absolutely epic San Diego city walk (according to Daniel’s phone pedometer: 15.5 miles), winding us through Point Loma, to Old Town, through Downtown, to Balboa Park and then back to Point Loma along the water.
  • People watching and enjoying the street performers at Balboa Park. I also loved the gardens at Balboa Park.
  • A personal highlight was walking through the neighborhoods, looking at the houses and taking in all the unique flora of this particular area of Southern California. Front yards are teeming with all variety of palms, cacti, succulents, colorful desert flowers and more. I could spend all day just wandering through neighborhoods, looking for unique details on homes and in yards. Ocean Beach neighborhood has some especially funky homes.
  • Just generally, it was so much fun simply going to a new place with the kids. It sounds cliche, but to be able to see things fresh from their eyes is a real treat.
  • Enjoying quiet time around the rental house with Shane and Angela, including some seriously delicious dinners (grilled pizza, fish tacos).

Arrival in Amsterdam

Current status: Daniel and I are sprawled out on the comfy blue couch in the living room of our Airbnb place in Jordaan, Amsterdam. Our lovely rental looks out on the Herengracht Canal and the open bay windows in the living room allow a splendid vantage point for people, bicycle, and canal boat watching. Today there was a crane doing some heavy lifting across our canal and Ava spent a good long time observing – better than TV!


We arrived in Amsterdam yesterday (March 22nd) morning after a flight, which Daniel says “wasn’t awful,” but I contest that. I’d describe it as taxing at best, punishing at worst. Ava slept off an on throughout the flight, but her awake times were generally punctuated by prolonged screaming fits. As I sat on the plane trying to console an inconsolable, exhausted baby, I realized that this was my personal idea of hell. I pitied Ava for her tiredness, myself for the hopelessness of the situation, and everyone within five rows of our seats for their seriously disturbed peace. I feel like I unlocked some sort of parental badge on that flight and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more relief than I did after getting off the plane. But, the horror of that flight is neither here nor there, because we arrived in Amsterdam alive and all fully intact. We headed to the baggage claim, picked up our hefty load (traveling light is a thing of the past), hopped on the train and headed into the heart of the city.


Our Airbnb rental is in Jordaan and it is just about the most charming place I’ve ever seen. Set one floor above street level, it looks out on the canal and, as I mentioned above, offers the most superb people watching from our front window. It is two bedrooms, one for us and one for Ava (although last night we all ended up in the same bed) and throughout is strewn indications of the owners’ interesting life: the woman is the current Dutch Ambassador to Sudan (former ambassador to Sri Lanka and Egypt) and the man sounds to be a physician. There are photos of Sri Lanka, I’m sure taken by them, Tibetan prayer wheels, beaded inlay wooden stools (which look to be tribal pieces from Africa) and numerous works of art throughout.


After a nap and a shower, we all headed out to explore the city on foot. I immediately fell in love with Amsterdam. Some of the architecture and historic feel, along with the communal European activities like bike riding and outdoor cafe dining, remind me of Paris, but Amsterdam has a special edgy quirk to it that Paris does not. The canal system that Amsterdam is built upon is intricate and a fascinating mode of moving about the city. I feel like every direction I look I am met with some sort of charming urban scene: cruiser bicycles locked along the canal bridges; clay pots of blooming tulips lining the stoops of canal homes; pigeons pecking about at the feet of dozens of people dining at outdoor cafes, sharing cappuccinos and tiny glasses of wine. It is a city packed full of these lovely details. There are, of course, also the telltale signs that we are in Amsterdam: I spotted a few “red light” windows, where prostitutes sit and coyly look at passers by and the wafting smell of marijuana, which can be detected nearly everywhere in this city. I’ve noticed a number of special “coffee shops,” which are practically shrouded in a cloud of weed smoke.


Last night we cooked at our Airbnb place, which I was thankful for after about 24 hours of airplane food and snacks. Though I had high hopes that Ava would sleep through the night, that wasn’t very realistic. I woke up with a start, wide awake around midnight (thank you, jet lag), and Ava woke up shortly after, crying and wide awake. I attempted to get her back to sleep, but to no avail. So, the three of us all got up and played in the living room from about midnight-2am. Finally at 3am I got her to go back to sleep, albeit on my shoulder, which she never does anymore, but I wasn’t about to disturb her, so she continued to sleep on me for most of the night. This allowed her to get some sleep, but allowed me to get almost none due to fear of disturbing her. When Ava woke for the morning at 6:30, Daniel took her and allowed me another few hours.


Today we hit the town, not quite first thing in the morning, but as soon as we could muster given the previous night. We walked across town to the Van Gogh Museum, which had been recommended to us by a number of people. It did not disappoint: I was fascinated by the life and works of Van Gogh. He must have been some sort of savant. A few things I learned:

  • Van Gogh only produced art between 1880-1890, and during much of this time produced an average of one painting per day.
  • He was influenced by many artists, but also by the Japanese art and aesthetic, which is evident in some of his works.
  • He suffered from some sort of mental illness, his doctors at the time thought epilepsy with acute mania, and he seems like he was clearly depressed. He cut off part of his ear after a fight with sort-of-friend and fellow painter, Paul Gauguin.

After the museum we headed home for naps all around (do you see a theme here?). Post-nap we picked up mid-afternoon coffees for the adults and banana bread for adults and the baby and walked to Central Station where we picked up tickets for a one-hour canal cruise tour. This is definitely a tourist activity that should not be missed! The perspective allotted by touring the canals by boats is spectacular. The audio guide through the tour was also quite good, pointing out notable buildings and important/historical parts of the city. One part I thought very interesting was the views into the houseboats. There are some 2,500 house boats lining the canals in Amsterdam (no more allowed by the government). The houseboats ranged from luxurious to quite dinky, but all seemed to present a unique way of life on the water. Daniel, Ava and I all enjoyed the cruise. Daniel and I mostly enjoyed the views from the window and Ava mostly enjoyed shredding one of the canal maps found on the floor.

And now, we rest and pray that Ava sleeps through the night. Tomorrow is a big day, indeed! It is Ava’s first birthday. We plan on celebrating in high style with banana nutella crepes (made by Daniel) for breakfast and visits to the NEMO Science Museum in the morning and the zoo in the afternoon.


Summit Meadow Cabins

Spent the weekend in this lovely A-frame cabin on Mt. Hood. On our past trips the entire landscape has been covered with snow. This winter has been unseasonably warm and there was not a flake of snow in sight. The rained nearly the entire weekend, but we still managed to get out for a soggy hike around the perimeter of Trillium Lake. It was relaxing and restful, the perfect getaway before finals week.


Spray Rodeo 2014

Last weekend we took Ava on her very first Spray trip! It was the general consensus that Ava is the youngest Spray-goer in Spray history (at least within our campsite). We had an awesome time with everyone and Ava did very well – we were so impressed! The car ride there and back was what made me the most nervous, but she mostly slept through the whole thing, and we made two stops both ways, that coincided with lunch and gas.

We arrived Friday evening and set up camp. The three of us shared a tent borrowed from my dad (the REI Basecamp 6) and we had more than enough room for all our stuff. I brought a blow-up Thermarest mattress that Ava used right next to me.

Saturday we went to the pancake breakfast and parade in Spray and then went to the rodeo for the afternoon. I was a lot of fun to be back there, just a year ago we got engaged at the rodeo! Now we are back with our daughter… While we had a great time at the rodeo, it was certainly a different experience being there with Ava. We felt that mostly we were tending to her needs: changing her, feeding her, making sure she wasn’t too hot or in the sun too much. By the end of the rodeo I realized I had caught about half of one bronc ride (they are approximately 7 seconds long). Well, I guess I did spend a lot of my time that I could have watched events chatting with Jane (it was Jane’s first time to the rodeo too!).

Sunday we were up for a little adventure, but were a tad wary of hiking in the hills right next to our campground because they are pretty notorious for being full of ticks and we weren’t sure about ticks getting on Ava. So, Daniel, Sam, Ava and I packed up in my car and headed for Picture Gorge, about 45 minutes east of Spray. We ended our drive east in Dayville and stopped to buy sunscreen. We took a short rest to get Ava out of the car at the mercantile (this was a real, legit mercantile store) and a bunch of the motorcycle dudes had just happened to be stopping too (Memorial Day weekend just happens to also be the same time the A.B.A.T.E. crew has their annual meeting (American Bikers Against Totalitarian Establishment), so the general area is usually swarming with Harley-riding dudes and dudettes. All the grizzly riders saw Ava and were commenting on how cute and beautiful she was. Haha! It was kind of adorable.

After we picked up sunscreen we headed back west for a hike at Blue Basin, which goes through the awesome John Day fossil beds. The scenery was just gorgeous. Daniel carried Ava the whole hike (3.5 miles) in the Ergo and she did fine, although I was pretty overheated myself. After our hike we headed to the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, to learn about fossils and we were all praying they would have ice-cream there but, whomp, they did not.

We headed home Monday morning and stopped for a burger and curly fries at the Eastwind Drive-In in Cascade Locks.

Overall – we had an amazing time! I was so happy we got to bring Ava and that she did so well. I think having her there definitely was fun for the whole Spray crew. Can’t wait for next year!


The Everest Diaries: Days 1-4

In 2011 I spent a month trekking to Everest Base Camp while living in Nepal. This was one of the greatest physical and cultural experiences I’ve had the privilege of experiences. Below are my diaries, transcribed directly from my journal on the trek, and photos from the journey, which I’ve been meaning to post for several years (I’ll publish the whole thing in segments). I went on this trip with my boyfriend-at-the-time, Eric. The purpose of this trip was to trace the steps of the original Everest summiters, Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay, who reached the summit of Everest only by foot (i.e, no airplane straight to Lukla like most people do nowadays). We did the entire journey with no guide and no sherpa, carrying our load the entire way. This is a doable feat, but makes the trek exponentially more difficult in a physical sense, especially as the altitude climbs above 14,000 feet. 

DAY 1: February 14, 2011 Kathmandu to Jiri 

Are we leaving today or not? The bus to Jiri leaves in 1/2 an hour…

(Later that evening) It is now evening at the Cherrdung Lodge in Jiri. Bus ride was quick and painless… about 8 hours by micro. Taxied to Ratna Park @ 6am, but the bus didn’t leave until 7:30am, so had tea for an hour instead, huddled inside a bus station shack covered with a wrinkled tarp watching the morning activity of the bus station – everyone silently and sullenly drinking tea. Bus ride to Jiri was uneventful. Stopped for expensive, but mediocre dal bhat. Stopped for oranges (1 kilo) and coconut cookies. Arrived in Jiri around 3 or 4 (I left my phone at home so I am loosing concept of time very quickly). Found a guesthouse (100 rupees/night) called the Cherrdung Lodge. Great deal, except you are required to eat at the lodge. We bought 8 eggs thinking we would Jetboil them with ramen for dinner. Then, one of the hotel guys told us that according to the rules of the Khumbu you must eat at your lodge. So, ramen was out. Had pancakes with jam and and veg momos with tomato achar for dinner. Good, but expensive dinner. Watched bits of Serendipity and the Proposal on TV. I think our guesthouse guys are disappointed that we didn’t eat more. Lodging is simple but good and VERY cheap at 50 rupees/person. Tomorrow is a big day of walking: 8 hours. A little nervous about the heft of my bag. Met a guy on the trail who was just returning from Base Camp. He had a very small bag.


Me at a tea shop in Shivalaya – not too dirty yet (only on Day 1!).

Day 2: February 15, 2011 Jiri to Shivalaya

 Stayed at the River Guest House. They gave us bean soup to try. (Yum!)

IMG_6469 A peak inside a typical teahouse in the Solu Khumbu (Everest Region). Very simple lodging, yet very cheap (50 Nepalese rupees per night). IMG_6474The River Guest House in Shivalya. A fairly typical (on the nicer side) tea house on the road to Everest.

Day 3: February 16, 2011 Shivalaya to Bhandar over the Deurali Pass

Over the Deurali pass today (3090m) and there was snow! A lot of snow! A sherpa winter wonderland. Got lost but met a young Nepali guy who works in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. He showed us the right way so we bought him (and us) a round of tea and coconut biscuits. Made the mistake of not asking how much the biscuits were ahead of time, so he charged us 150 rupees! SCAM. Was raining all day and bags got totally soaked: sleeping bag, clothes, everything. Over the Deurali Pass it was snowing hard. Snowball sized snowflakes. In Deurali had milk tea and pancakes with jam. Down from Deurali pass it was snowing the whole way, then raining. Met a semi-drunk man who escorted us to the outskirts of Bhandar. First we walked through a small bazar settlement and then into Bhandar, located in the valley below. Stayed at the Shobha Guesthouse. The place was run by a very curious lady. She asked all about our families (like, do we have a buffalo at home? what about cows?). Asked a million questions while she warmed her feet by the fire. Had veg momos and egg chowmein for dinner. Jetted out in the AM. Woke up to a very clear blue sky. A treat after the hectic, wet, messy storm of the day before.

IMG_6494 First snow in Deurali! IMG_6497 Warming up for a quick tea on the top of the Deurali Pass. 300610_947277646038_1909148000_nBack out in the snow storm. Not prepared! IMG_6517The day after the snow storm, we woke up to a perfect, clear-blue day.

DAY 4: February 17, 2011 Bhandar to Sete

Left Bhandar early, but were delayed a few minutes out of town by a man who invited us into his kitchen for black tea. Cute kids who shook our hands. The man spoke very good English. He was a forestry expert and college educated. He invited us to stay with him on our way back. Had a great walk and descent to Kinza. Stopped in Kinza for lunch: biscuits, milk tea, chowmein, Tibetan bread. Was too much food and made me throw up in my mouth continuously on the way up from Kinza. Long walk up and reached the small town of Sete nearing dark. Stayed at the first guesthouse in town, and the first man who propositioned us for a room. Maybe a mistake? Nosey, pushy with food, no privacy, broken window. Awoke early in the morning to the jingling bells of a mule caravan. Jetted out early.

IMG_6530 Little workers on the way out of Bhandar. IMG_6531Beautiful scene on the way out of Bhandar. The low-altitude on the trek to Base Camp was probably my favorite part: lush, green and full of interesting villages and people.316088_951857048878_813945522_n

We thought heavy backpacks were bad, take a look at the loads the Sherpas carried! To add insult to injury, most of the sherpas were carrying their load while wearing plastic flip flops!

Hiking Haleakala

On Thursday the Maui crew had our grandest island adventure yet – an 11.2 mile hike through Haleakala Crater, whose volcano makes up 75% of the island.

The day started before the sun rose, at 5:30am. We gulped down some coffee, packed our sustenance for the day and piled into our powder-blue rental car. The drive to the trailhead (actually for us, the end of the trail) was approximately two hours. The first half of the drive paralleled the Maui coast line, affording gorgeous views of the calm morning sea. The second half of the drive snaked precariously up, and up, and up through lush Maui farmland, comprised of fields of yellow flowers and open green pastures dotted with cows and horses.

We finally reached a parking lot, still five miles from the summit, where we would leave our car and end up at the end up our trek. But, we still had five miles to cover before the beginning of the Sliding Sands Trail. To cover this final five miles, we planned on hitchhiking. We had all showered within the past 24-hours and, we thought, looked fairly innocuous. Half-a-dozen cars passed us and our protruding thumbs, before a guy in a pickup stopped for us. We piled in and we were off. He turned out to be a Maui local (by way of Los Angeles and Seattle) who was working on the construction of a new observatory at the Haleakala Summit. We chatted about skiing, island life and observatory construction materials before he deposited the four of us at the beginning of Sliding Sands.

Around 9am we set off. After walking over the outer crest, we quickly make our descent into the belly of the crater, which looked more and more like Mars with every step. During the entire hike we rarely passed another person, which added to the desolate feel.

Sliding Sands Trail begins at 10,000 ft and quickly drops 2,800 ft during the first four miles. Within five minutes, all our shoes were full of red volcanic ash and sand. As the trail leveled off, the terrain changed to a bit more rocky, with sharp volcanic rock spreading as far as the eye could see.

One thing we all became adept at during the day was putting on and taking off our raincoats quickly and with finesse. This was because the weather within the crater would change at the drop of a hat. Once we reached the bottom of the crater, a soupy cloud bank rolled in and began spitting rain on us. I was a bit disappointed for a moment, thinking I would need to wear my raincoat for the rest of the day. Within five minutes the rain had passed and we were once again bathed in sun.

Around noon we stopped at a suitable, yet windy, saddle for a quick lunch. In the hours proceeding lunch, the landscape markedly changed from desolate to one with a bit more brush and plants. The flora mainly consisted of low brush and Silverswords, one of Hawaii’s native plants. Silverswords burst from the ground as a bushel of metallic-looking spikes. When they are dead, as Leah aptly observed, they look like shaggy lap dogs.

After another hour or so, we reached the beginning of the end: the 3.9 mile ascent out of the crater along a series of jagged switchbacks. Almost immediately a cloud came in and totally engulfed us, making it nearly impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead. With the lack of visibility and the thick fog, I felt like I was hiking on the Oregon Coast.

Finally we reached flatter ground and heard the squawking call of the Ne-ne, Hawaii’s state bird. At last, our lovely powder-blue rental car was in sight. The hike, which Lonely Planet quoted as taking 10 hours, took us approximately 5 hours (though it didn’t seem like we were going particularly fast).

We piled in the car with a singular train of thought: fro-yo. 1.5 hours, several wrong turns, and one forlorn wander through a local mall later, we each sat with a heaping pile of frozen yogurt in front of us. A sweet reward after a day spent in the crater.

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